Despite the potential profits, market gardening as it is practised in Anjouan is not without its difficulties. Appropriate fields with a reliable water supply are hard to come by, so the activity is not available to everyone. Difficulties also arise during the height of the market gardening season when the market becomes saturated by certain crops such as tomatoes and the price drops significantly.
In addition, the production techniques are often not sustainable as most gardeners have come to rely on chemical fertilisers and pesticides which are not only expensive, but, as their use is not regulated, they risk damaging freshwater ecosystems and human health when they run off into water courses.
The project works with individuals and small groups of villagers to provide advice and training on how to ensure long-term sustainable production. This includes using natural fertilisation methods such as manure and compost,, and low cost and environmentally friendly organic pest control techniques using easily-available ingredients such as chilli, garlic and soap. We are also helping gardeners to extend their market gardening season by using different vegetable varieties and planning planting so that harvesting can occur outside the high season.
As well as training, the project also provides equipment and seeds on credit to help people overcome financial barriers to getting started.
For the 2012 market gardening season we are incorporating SCV techniques (which ensure the soil is never left bare through mulches and associations with cover plants) into market gardening, which in Madagascar have been shown increase yields and decrease the amount of work required as they help with weed and pest control and soil fertility.